Big Finish’s latest release of the Avengers features three different comic strips from the Steed and Peel era of the 1960s television series starring Julian Wadham as Steed and Olivia Poulet as Emma Peel.
In “Seven Deadly…Assassins”, Steed and Peel are sent on a ship where they are charged with guarding a valuable jewel. However, they find themselves amidst a group of assassins themed around the seven deadly sins and with a grudge against them.
This is very much a typical Avengers story with themed villains, a fun location, the quips, etc. It does lack some of the punch other comic adaptations. As writer Roland Moore points out, this was from a holiday special without cliffhangers. Still, it’s a fun story, and it’s written with a good understanding of what to expect. The performances are good even with the archest and most on-the-nose characters. It’s a fun time, and hits the right marks, but doesn’t quite have the pizazz of the better stories.
In “Stand and Deliver,” Steed and Peel are invited to a Highwayman’s Ball at the house of a nobleman/scientist. It turns out the ball is a set up to find out who is a spy within the British Secret Service, and Steed is a suspect.
In the case of many stories with this sort of plot, it might be fair to complain about how convoluted the story is, but this is the Avengers, and no villain ever cares about doing anything in a simple, direct way. This story is a fun listen that has a lot of twists and turns, and combines elements of a few different genres to make for a good romp.
“You Won’t Believe Your Eyes” is a hard one to evaluate, owing mainly to the comic strip used, which writer John Dorney admits goes in some directions that are atypical for the Avengers. The beginning of the story is quite strong with the sudden appearance of polar bears and T-Rexes. Then, after we find out the source of these apparitions, the story loses some momentum. We’re given two very stereotypical Soviet spy villains that are far from the typical over-the-top Avengers villains we’re used to. The story picks up in the last few minutes when we get the final plot twist and the denouement. It’s helped by a good acting performance from Dorney.
It’s not a bad script but doesn’t quite deliver the level of fun you expect from an Avengers script, particularly with an opening like this one had.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether Big Finish is running out of good source material, particularly for the Steed and Peel era.
The stories in the six volumes have all been based on storylines from comic strips in TV and TV Action magazine, with Big Finish writers adapting the scripts and expanding on their ideas and concepts. In addition to the atypical finale, the opening story wasn’t a serialized story like all the others, but a self-contained story from an annual.
Overall, this box set was still a fun time. The production team at Big Finish does a great job making these as good as possible. I just sensed that due to the quality of the source material, there was more work needed to put out higher-quality episodes than on previous sets.If you love the TV Avengers or the previous box sets, it’s still worth checking out.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
The Avengers: The Comic Strip Adaptations, Volume 6
is available on the Big Finish website